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Saudi Arabia and UAE are emerging as key players in the Middle East’s gaming sector

The Gulf states aim to bolster the gaming industry in the Middle East, both locally and internationally.

Saudi Arabia and UAE are emerging as key players in the Middle East’s gaming sector
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Although Saudi Arabia and the UAE have established themselves as leaders in the gaming industry in the Middle East, their governments recognize that there is further room for growth and potential in the gaming market for both Gulf countries.

According to a Game Changer report by Boston Consulting Group, approximately 60% of the population in the region identifies as gaming enthusiasts, accounting for around half of the gaming application downloads. The report further highlights that this surpasses the global average of 40%.

Alexander Schudey, managing director and partner at BCG, said, “The region’s focus on gaming and the establishment of dedicated gaming hubs makes it an attractive destination for global gaming companies.”

As noted by BCG, Saudi Arabia leads the Middle East in the gaming industry, capturing approximately 45% of the sector and boasting a value exceeding $1.8 billion. The report highlights that mobile gaming dominates the kingdom, contributing around 65% of market revenue.

As part of the National Gaming and Esports Strategy, a presented investment program by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September, the kingdom aims to develop 30 games and generate 40,000 jobs by 2030.

The Saudi Esports Federation, in collaboration with the National Development Fund and the Social Development Bank, has extended support to the kingdom’s gaming industry through a funding amount of $488 million, as disclosed during the Leap Technology conference in Riyadh in February

A report by game developer support system Nine66, released in December, highlights that gaming start-ups in Saudi Arabia witnessed a significant increase, doubling from 13 in the previous year to 24 in 2022.

Meanwhile, the UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, aims to attract greater interest from global businesses and local gaming talent. This effort is being pursued through initiatives like the Abu Dhabi Gaming and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre’s (DMCC) Gaming Centre.

The MENA region’s gaming sector is anticipated to reach $6 million by 2027, doubling from 2021, according to the latest Future of Trade 2023 report.

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